Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

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Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

What is Heroin?

Heroin is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. This depressant is derived from the opium poppy and processed into its highly addictive form.

It takes very little use for heroin addiction to establish itself, and once a user becomes dependent, the drug’s notorious withdrawal symptoms make unaided recovery very difficult. Stigma and fear surround heroin use, and people may struggle to reach out for help because of this, but it does not need to come between you and your wellbeing.

Heroin detox can be tough to manage alone. Many of our clients have tried to quit on several occasions with no support before reaching out to us, but the withdrawal symptoms have been too severe for them to be successful. However, our clients are often surprised at how much difference a medically supervised detox makes.

Heroin addiction is a medical condition that is entirely treatable. Our fully trained clinical staff will make sure that your transition into recovery is as comfortable as possible, and our therapists and counselors will help you lay the foundations for a successful and long-term recovery. Your new life begins with reaching out for help.

Heroin Detox and Withdrawal Overview

The Process of Heroin Addiction

When heroin enters the brain, it begins a rapid process of breaking down and binding to opioid receptors.

Heroin acts like an amplified version of our naturally occurring opiates (enkephalin and endorphin) that have mild calming and pain-dulling effects.

The potent drug then overwhelms the brain’s opioid receptors, triggering a reaction to build more. The increase in receptors increases tolerance even as the body produces less natural opioids. As the level of the drug necessary to feel the same rush rises, cravings get stronger.

Meanwhile, the brain has a network of neurons that stop feelings of pleasure from flooding the cerebral system too much. Opioids silence these while they are in the brain, which causes their pleasurable effects, but this only leads the neurons to become more active.

When heroin and its metabolites wear off, they begin to fire up to four times more than usual. This brings with it intense negative feelings and a desire to take more heroin just to feel normal.

Your Journey To Recovery Begins Today

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Tolerance and physical dependency grow quickly with long-term heroin use, increasing the risk of consuming a lethal volume and overdosing.

Extended use also often brings about severe changes to personality, behavior, and wellbeing. Long-term effects of heroin use include:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Circulation problems
  • Bacterial infection
  • Track marks and permanent scarring
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Higher risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C
  • Brain fog, depression, and memory loss

Deterioration in users’ mental and emotional state is likely to occur with long-term heroin use. Dependency often goes hand in hand with social isolation from friends and loved ones, job loss, and feelings of precarity. However, no matter how severe the physical, mental, or social effects of heroin become, it is always possible to seek help.

Heroin Withdrawal

Your body processes heroin quickly and its effects diminish within hours.

Severe or persistent withdrawal symptoms often entice people to take more of the drug to avoid them, and as such, it is crucial to obtain dedicated and trustworthy support if you want to stop using the drug.

 The brain starts the process of healing very quickly once heroin use ceases., though the process of withdrawal can last from a few days to a few weeks before the body balances out again. A medically supported detox can alleviate the most uncomfortable aspects of withdrawal, significantly reducing the risk of relapse. After withdrawal, further expert treatment is critical to staying sober.

The Road To Recovery Starts With You

Withdrawal Symptoms

The timeline of withdrawal is different for everyone, and its severity is dependent on numerous factors, including prior usage.

Withdrawal generally begins about 12 hours after the last use, peaks after around three or four days, and tends to decline after a week. All effects tend to resolve themselves after about three weeks but can persist for months in rarer cases. The host of physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal includes:

Mild Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Eyes tearing up
  • Aching muscles/bones
  • Abdominal pain
  • Irritability

Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Raised pulse
  • Nausea, often accompanied by vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Cramps in limbs and uncontrolled “kicking”
  • Severe pain in bones and muscles
  • Profuse sweating, unaffected by temperature or activity
  • Extreme nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme agitation

Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Although the acute withdrawal symptoms fade relatively quickly, residual effects can remain for several months. These are called “Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms” or “PAWS,” and can include low mood, depression, anxiety, and urges to use drugs.

Because PAWS are primarily mental, there is no specified medical treatment; however, our compassionate and highly skilled team of therapists, counselors, and support staff will help you build your emotional resilience and coping skills to deal with this if you are affected.

Quitting is not easy alone. We understand that the choice to detox is facing a potentially physically taxing and vulnerable period, however, you can manage your symptoms and cravings with proper assistance.

A professional treatment plan in a therapeutic environment can make the difference between a life free from addiction or being caught in a cycle of withdrawal and dependency.

Medical Detox at Cirque Lodge

In some instances, medications are available to make the symptoms of withdrawal more bearable.

These are prescribed by the medical team to help ease acute withdrawal symptoms while they reduce naturally during the recovery period. These medications help to ensure that the process of withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Some of the drugs we prescribe are:

  • Methadone: A long-acting opioid. Methadone reacts with opioid receptors and stays active for between 24 and 36 hours. It is initially prescribed at low levels that do not produce a high and then usually slowly reduced. This enables clients to focus on the other facets of therapy.
  • Buprenorphine: An opioid with a “ceiling” effect, meaning its influence on the body flattens out at safe levels with increased use. This characteristic makes it difficult to abuse and safe for treatment. It is usually prescribed around 24 hours after your last dose of heroin.
  • Clonidine: An antihypertensive medicine that can suppress withdrawal symptoms, including restlessness, tearing, sweating, and anxiety.

At Cirque Lodge, we couple medically assisted detox with ongoing behavioral therapy and counseling. As heroin loosens its grip, our team is here to listen and counsel you through any confusing or upsetting emotions as they arise. As a part of a cohort of residents, many also find solace in sharing experiences as a community. We provide a judgment-free space where you can learn to feel like yourself again.

Holistic Addiction Treatment at Cirque Lodge

Cirque Lodge offers a holistic program that will cover every facet of heroin addiction recovery.  Our center employs a team of knowledgeable and compassionate medical professionals to guide our clients through their treatment and rehabilitation plans. Addiction is highly personal, so we tailor our therapeutic program to each individual that walks through our doors.

After graduation, we follow this up with a detailed relapse prevention plan.

We understand that while the measures of care we offer are critical to recovery, the experiences and toolkit clients receive while they are here will be just as important for a lifelong exit from addiction.

Recovery is achievable for all those who suffer from heroin addiction. This beautiful part of the Rocky Mountains has offered healing for centuries to visitors who come to this area. At Cirque Lodge, we invite you to take part in that healing, and in doing so, take your life back.

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Cirque Lodge offers a combination of experiential, behavioral, and group therapies to provide a holistic and enriching treatment experience.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, please contact us today. We can help.